The holidays can generate a lot of waste, but they don’t have to. It’s easy and fun to gift sustainable and eco-thoughtful gifts. Baked goods, like favorite cookies, pie, a homemade dinner, or bottle of wine are great low waste gifts to give.
Gifting experiences are another great idea. Gifting a dance class, a moonlit hike, passes to a climbing gym, museum, or even the local indie movie theater are perfect for that hard to please person. It’s also important when gifting experiences to choose local outlets to support your community. See my list below for favorite local options for ZW gifts.
It’s also a great time to get creative and make some gifts (if you have the time). I love baking cookies to take to holiday parties and or foraging for pine bows and local berries to make lovely arrangements. I’ll forage pine bows and pinecones on hikes and walks. I like to make my own dried arrangements and pine swags. They’re really easy to make and don’t cost anything! Gifting some plant babies are another option. Take a cutting from one of your plants and peruse thrift stores for a pot. I have found beautiful plant pots at thrift stores. Vintage handkerchiefs are another ZW gift idea. Antique stores and flea markets always have some very unique, lovely designs.
Time is often an overlooked gift. Helping a family member, friend, or community member can be as easy as coming over for coffee and a chat or helping them with some chores.
Here’s my list of some ideas when shopping locally in Fort Collins.
Queen of The Meadow for lotion bars and shampoo bars (These can be found at the Co-op/Mountain Avenue Market and The Cupboard)
Mountain Avenue Market (formerly The Fort Collins Food Cooperative) has many ZW gifting options. Take an old jar to fill with a favorite snack or coffee and wrap a ribbon around the top for an easy gift. They also have all your baking needs for package-free baking.
EsScentuals has beautifully handcrafted, locally-made artisan soaps that are not wrapped and simply tied with piece of twine.
Take a growler to one of our many local breweries to fill up a favorite beer. Jessup Farm Barrel House, Odell, New Belgium Brewery, Snowbank and Horse & Dragon just to name a few allow growler fills.
Wolverine Farm Letterpress & Publick House sells many locally-made gifts from candles to cards. Stop in and enjoy a coffee or local brew while you’re there.
Nuance Chocolate has handmade artisan chocolates and candies minimally packaged in paper and wooden boxes. I believe they also allow BYO containers to buy chocolates as well.
Thrift Rite has great pots for any plant babies you decide to gift. Who Gives A Scrap is another great local reuse store that is abundant with vases and pots.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
I save bags, tissue paper, ribbons, bows and any cute tag or card I know I can repurpose as gift wrapping. I have never been a fan of shiny wrapping paper, especially when we have so much newspaper, brown paper and maps, cards, etc. sitting around. Also, most wrapping paper cannot be tossed in single-stream recycling because of it’s high clay and ink content. Check with your city to see if they allow wrapping paper in single-stream recycling. Fort Collins residents can recycle wrapping paper in your single stream bin or at the Timberline Recycling Center. Don’t include metallic paper.
It’s also easy to forage a few pinecones, pine sprigs and berries to add some natural beauty to gift wrapping.
This year I did buy a live Christmas tree from a local tree seller. I opt for a live tree that is sustainably-sourced and local (if I can). The greenest real tree is the one that is bought locally and recycled. Artificial trees are mostly made of PVC and Steel and produced in China and then shipped to the US. Be diligent and do your research to see what is the most sustainable option. In Fort Collins, we have several different drop-off locations to recycle your tree. The most common way trees are recycled is via the wood chipper, producing mulch that is then distributed to residents or used in city projects (this is what the City of Fort Collins and Larimer County do). Other options to reuse and recycle your tree include:
- Take your tree out back and let it dry out. The needles make a great mulch, and can help acidify our alkaline Colorado soil. Use the wood in your fireplace. If you don’t have a fireplace, ask around. I bet you know someone who would be happy to have some free firewood.
- Stake your tree upright in the yard and string it up with popcorn or other bird treats for a wonderful winter wildlife feeder.
- Create habitats for animals. Trees are sunk in the shallow waters of lakes and ponds to provide nursery habitat for young fish. Under the guidance of the Division of Wildlife, they can be bundled together and placed in forest areas where they provide cover for small animals like birds, rabbits, ground squirrels, and the like. (https://fortcollinsnursery.com/news/what-to-do-with-old-christmas-trees/)
My fat little tree. It’s decorated entirely with hand-me-down and thrifted ornaments and lights.
sugar cookies fresh out of the oven
Homemade, package-free sugar cookies
My foraged grass and berry decor